Man in deflating raft off Fire Island saved by military rescuers

Devin Kelly

A man in a deflating raft was rescued Tuesday night from Cook Inlet between Fire Island and Kincaid Park, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Alaska State Troopers asked the Coast Guard for help just after 7 p.m. About 40 minutes earlier, a 44-year-old Anchorage man had called 911 to say he was out in a raft and wanted to die, said Beth Ipsen, troopers spokeswoman.

"He was threatening to jump overboard," Ipsen said.

Troopers said the man, wearing a brown life jacket, was in an inflatable raft that was losing air, the Coast Guard said in a written statement.

The Coast Guard issued an urgent marine broadcast asking for help from other agencies or mariners and launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Kodiak. Since the Jayhawk wasn't expected to arrive for about two hours, the Coast Guard also asked the Alaska Air National Guard for help, according to an Air Guard statement.

The Air Guard sent an HC-130 King aircraft and a Pave Hawk helicopter, and the helicopter picked up an Air National Guard pararescueman from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Those crews located the man about one mile from Fire Island, the Air Guard said.

The pararescueman was lowered into the water, and the helicopter crew hoisted both the man and the pararescueman on board.

The man was then flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center for evaluation. Troopers arrived at the hospital and spoke to the man's doctor, Ipsen said.

Reach Devin Kelly at or 257-4314. Lisa Demer contributed to this story.